The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
23rd March to 3rd April, 1946

Ninety-Third Day: Thursday, 28th March, 1946
(Part 4 of 7)

[Page 140]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I have a list of witnesses who were refused.

There is Admiral Schuster -

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, he is one.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Who was relevant on this question as to who initiated the Treaty. And then there is Sir Robert Craigie, No. 24. There is Lord Monsell -

THE PRESIDENT: He was refused.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: These are on the same points. No. 25.


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, my Lord, I think these are the three.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, what do you say to this? Those three witnesses - Schuster, Craigie and Monsell - who as alleged by you were to give evidence on this 1935 Treaty, were all refused. As to the witness you are now examining, no reference to this matter was contained in his application; he was asked for only as an interpreter in the Foreign Office.

DR. HORN: I was under the impression that the other witnesses had been refused because they were cumulative and I was not going to question the witness on the Naval Agreement, but I merely want to ask him about the attitude shown by Ribbentrop when the agreement was concluded and afterwards, in order to prove to the Tribunal that Ribbentrop was in any case not at that time deliberately working towards an aggressive war, nor was he participating in a conspiracy to initiate a war of aggression, at least not at that time. And I wish to prove further that this agreement was not "eye wash" as the said British Ambassador, Sir Neville Henderson, put it.

THE PRESIDENT: Your application with reference to Ambassador Craigie was this: the witness can give evidence that in 1935 Ribbentrop approached England with a proposal that the Naval Treaty should be signed and Ribbentrop's initiative brought about an agreement by France to this treaty which involved the Treaty of Versailles. Thus the treaty has come into effect.

[Page 141]

Is it not in connection with that, that you were going to ask this witness questions?


THE PRESIDENT: If you have nothing to ask him about the Naval Treaty of 1935, then you can go on.

Q. Witness, in 1944, you were present at a conference between Horthy and Hitler at Klessheim, in which Ribbentrop also took part and during which the solution of the Jewish question in Hungary was discussed. What did Ribbentrop say to you about this question?

A. During this conference there had been a certain difficulty, when Hitler insisted that Horthy should proceed more drastically in the Jewish question, and Horthy answered with some heat, "But what am I supposed to do? Shall I perhaps beat them to death?"... Whereupon there was rather a lull, and the Foreign Minister then turned to Horthy and said, "Yes. There are only two possibilities - either that or to intern the Jews." Afterwards he said to me - and this was rather exceptional - that Hitler's demands in this connection might have gone a bit too far.

Q. On the 25th of August, 1939, you took part in a conference between Hitler, Henderson and Ribbentrop, at which Ribbentrop and Hitler once more expressed their wish to come to an agreement with Poland, with Britain acting as intermediary. Is it correct that Ribbentrop then sent you with a draft memorandum on this conference to Henderson at the British Embassy to ask him to back this proposal as far as possible and to try to put it through? Is that correct?

A. Yes, that is so.

DR. HORN: May I submit to the Tribunal a copy of this telegram from Sir Nevile Henderson to Lord Halifax?

Q. Is it correct, witness, that on the 28th of August, 1939, von Ribbentrop in a further discussion with Sir Nevile Henderson again stressed that an agreement between Germany and Britain in regard to a settlement of the Polish question was Chamberlain's greatest wish, as the British Prime Minister had stated to Ribbentrop, and that Ribbentrop then repeated this to Henderson. Is that true?

A. Yes, that is true.

DR. HORN: May I submit to the Tribunal the memorandum in question as an exhibit?

THE PRESIDENT: You offer a copy of that in evidence, do you?

DR. HORN: I request the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the document.

THE PRESIDENT: What number -

DR. HORN: The number has also been fixed by the prosecution as TC-72. I submit it again to the Tribunal because I have referred to it just now.

Q. Witness, one last question: In your extensive activities as an interpreter, you had much opportunity to observe Hitler in contact with foreigners. What impression, according to your observations, did Hitler make on foreign statesmen?

A. Naturally it is not quite so easy to answer this question, as one cannot look into the hearts and minds of other people. But as an observer one can naturally draw certain conclusions from the attitude....

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal really does not think that this is a matter which is relevant, the effect that Hitler's demeanour had on foreign statesmen. It does not influence us in the least.

DR. HORN: Then I withdraw my question. I have no further questions to put to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Are there any other defendants' counsel who wish to ask questions?

BY DR. STAHMER (counsel for defendant Goering):

Q. Witness, were you present at a conversation which took place about one year before the outbreak of war, between Lord Londonderry and Field Marshal Goering at Karinhall?

A. Yes, I was present at this conversation.

[Page 142]

Q. Describe briefly to the Tribunal the substance of this conversation.

A. After so long a time I cannot, of course, remember all the details, but I recall that the subject of conversation was the Anglo-German rapprochement, or rather the elimination of any points of dispute between Germany and England, and that in addition of course, quite a number of technical questions regarding aviation and the air force were dealt with. I always remember very clearly one remark in particular made by Goering in the course of this conversation, when at the end of a discussion which was to prove how desirable it was that Germany and England be friendly and avoid conflicts, he said the following: If our two countries should be involved in a war against each other, then there will naturally be a victor and vanquished, but the victor in this dreadful conflict will in the moment of victory have just enough strength left to strike the last blow at the defeated and will then fall to the ground himself gravely wounded, and for this reason alone our two countries should get along with each other without conflict and without war.

Q. Did you take part in the negotiations in Munich in the autumn of 1938?

A. Yes, I did take part in these negotiations.

Q. Was the then Field Marshal Goering also present?

A. During the first part he was not present, but later when the circle of those present became larger he likewise took part.

Q. In what way did he participate?

A. He concerned himself only with individual questions of lesser importance. However he did take part in a way which showed that through his intervention he wanted to remove in so far as possible any difficulties which might hamper the progress of the negotiations. In other words, he was anxious that the Munich negotiations should not collapse over such technical points of procedure as played an important role in the second part of the negotiations.

Q. Were you present at a conversation which took place in the autumn of 1937 between Lord Halifax and Goering - and followed a conference between Lord Halifax and Hitler at the Berghof?

A. Yes, I was present.

Q. What course did this conversation take? Briefly, please.

A. First I must say that at the Obersalzberg the discussion with Lord Halifax took a very unsatisfactory turn. The two statesmen could in no way come to an understanding of each other, but in the conversation with Goering the atmosphere improved. The same points were dealt with as at Obersalzberg, the subjects which were in the foreground at the time, namely, the Anschluss, the Sudeten question, and finally the question of the Polish Corridor and Danzig. At Obersalzberg Hitler had treated these matters without willingness to compromise, and he had demanded more or less that the solution as he conceived it be accepted by England, whereas Goering in his discussions always attached importance to the fact that a peaceful solution, that is to say, a solution through negotiation, was his idea, and that everything should be done in this direction, and that he also believed that such a solution could be reached for all three questions if the negotiations were properly conducted.

DR. STAHMER: I have no further questions.

BY DR. LATERNSER (Defence counsel for the General Staff and High Command):

Q. Witness, you were present at numerous political conferences of Hitler's? Did you notice on such occasions that high military leaders tried to influence him to enlarge German territory in a peaceful way or by war?

A. No, such efforts on the part of the military did not come to my notice, because at political negotiations the military representatives were for the most part not present at the beginning, when the large problems were dealt with, but they were called in only when purely military problems were discussed, and then, of course, they stated their opinion only on these problems, but did not speak on any political matters.

[Page 143]

Q. I have one more question. On the occasion of such discussions, did you find that high military leaders were anxious to exert political influence upon the Reich Government?

A. No, I did not find that, and you could not have found it, since they were hardly ever present.

DR. LATERNSER: I have no further questions.



Q. Witness, I want you first of all to tell the Tribunal quite shortly the general background of your views. Do you remember on 28th November making an affidavit at Oberursel; do you remember?

A. I cannot remember the date clearly, but I do remember that I made an affidavit.

Q. Would you look at it.

(The witness is handed the document.)

Paragraph 1 sets out your experience, the number of conferences -

My Lord, I ought to have said that this document is 3308-PS and will be Exhibit GB 288.

Then, in Paragraph 2 you give the basis of your experience. Would you follow it while I read:

"Whatever success and position I have enjoyed in the Foreign Office, I owe to the fact that I made it my business at all times to possess thorough familiarity with the subject matter under discussion, and I always endeavoured to obtain intimate knowledge of the mentality of Hitler and the other leaders. During the whole of the Hitler regime I endeavoured to keep myself apprised as to what was going on in the Foreign Office and in related organisations, and I enjoyed such a position that it was possible to have ready access to key officials and to key personnel in their offices."
Then, if you will look at the third paragraph, which gives your impression from that basis of the objectives of the foreign policy:
"The general objectives of National Socialism were known from the start, namely, the domination of the European Continent, to be achieved first by the incorporation of all German-speaking groups in the Reich and, secondly, by territorial expansion under the slogan of 'Lebensraum.' The execution of these basic objectives, however, seemed to be characterised by improvisation. Each succeeding step was apparently carried out as each new situation arose, but all consistent with the ultimate objectives mentioned above."
Is that right, Herr Schmidt? Does that express your views?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, before I go on to deal with particular matters, I want you to develop your impressions a little further. You have told us that you acted under or with every Foreign Minister since Herr Stressmann. Did you notice a considerable difference between the style of living of the Nazi Ministers and those who had preceded them?

A. As far as the style of living is concerned, there were certain differences, yes.

Q. Let us take the defendant Ribbentrop. Before the defendant Ribbentrop went into politics, had he one house in Berlin, Dahlem; I think "Lentze" Allee 79. Was that his property?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. Now, when he was Foreign Minister, had he six houses? Let me remind you and take them one by one. You can tell me if I am right. There was a house in Sonneburg, somewhere near Berlin, with an estate of 750 hectares and a private golf course. That was one, was it not?

A. I knew that there was a house at Sonneburg, but I did not, know how large it was.

[Page 144]

Q. Then there was one at Tanneck bei Duren, near Aachen, a house that he used for horse breeding?

A. I did not know about that house.

Q. And then there was one near Kitzbuhel that he used for chamois hunting?

A. That is not known to me in detail.

Q. Not in detail, but its existence was known?

A. I consider that it is not at all improbable that the house existed, but I have not heard any details about it.

Q. Then, of course, there was the Schloss Fuschl; that is in Austria, is it not?

A. Near Salzburg, yes.

Q. Near Salzburg, yes. That was taken over as a State residence. I will ask you about the circumstances a little later.

Then there was a Slovakian hunting estate called "Pustepole," was there not?

A. The name is familiar to me, and I know that Herr von Ribbentrop sometimes went hunting there, but I know nothing regarding the proprietorship.

Q. Then he also used a hunting lodge, near Podersan, that had belonged to Count Czernin, Neu Podesan, in Bohemia, in the Sudetenland?

A. There was a hunting box or something similar, I do not know the name, where receptions took place, as for instance, for Count Ciano. But I think it had a different name.

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